ICCA Dubai is The International Centre for Culinary Arts. Our mission is to become the leading culinary training provider in the Middle East and redefine the way in which professional & personal culinary training is delivered across the region.
The proverbial ‘Icing on the Cake’ gets even better when there are 7 different ways of professional cake decoration by which you can add visual and toothsome pleasure to your freshly baked delicious cake. Whether it be creating an artistic looking cake for an occasion or simply a dessert to finish a special meal or something that you would indulge in only to satiate those cravings- a cake does not seem complete without the icing over it.
Here are the most well-liked kinds of icing that you can use to finish your cakes.
1. Butter Cream
Butter cream is softer and more spreadable than most icing and is the preferred choice for taste and flexibility. It can be used as a filling inside cakes and also as a coating for decoration. It is made by creaming together sugar and butter or other fats like lard or margarine. The quality of the fat used will affect the taste, consistency and appearance of the cream frosting, as also the temperature at which the butter is whipped. Add a burst of flavour with vanilla extract. The cream melts easily in hot weather and so must be kept chilled to keep its form.
2. Whipped Cream
If lighter frosting is what you need then whipped cream is the answer. Often called Chantilly cream or crème Chantilly, it is made by cold-whipping together heavy cream and sugar till light and fluffy. You could also add or use meringue powder for stability. Enhance your cake’s taste by adding flavours to the cream.
Traditionally used to cover and decorate dense fruit cakes, Royal icing is a pure white and fluid paste that solidifies into a hard outer shell on drying. Made by beating together egg whites, icing sugar, and lime juice, it looks smooth, hard and matte when dry. Some may use meringue powder instead of the egg whites because of the risk of salmonella when using raw egg whites. Glycerine is often added to prevent the icing from setting too hard. It is easily dyeable using edible food colourings.
4. Cream Cheese Frosting
Cream cheese frosting is perfect for carrot cakes, cupcakes, red velvet cake, as a filling for doughnuts and well just about any kind of pastry with all that creamy and cheesy deliciousness. It comes together quickly by creaming together part butter cream frosting and a good quality cream cheese. A bit heavier than most types of cake icing, the texture and taste are best when made with high-fat cream cheese.
This very light & frothy icing is made by beating together egg whites, cold water and granulated sugar. The technique of introducing air to the mixture gives it a foamy consistency. The added sugar stiffens the foam. It can be plain or flavoured and with nuts added to it. There are 3 popular varieties of meringue – French, Italian and Swiss. The difference lies in the methods of beating the eggs. Uncooked meringue can be used as pastry toppings, or it can be baked until crisp and eaten likes cookies.
Fondant is a popular heavy frosting that can be easily sculpted and is used mainly for celebration cakes. Basic fondant ingredients include water, gelatine, glycerine, water, sugar (icing or castor sugar) and shortening. Some use marshmallows in place of gelatine and glycerine. The ideal texture is a fondant that can be stretched without tearing. It can be worked into different shapes using carving and decorating tools.
Spring is upon us and mother earth simply waits to burst into her full bloom.
We at the ICCASugarcraft Studio humbly attempt to copy the ultimate Master Crafter, to produce flowers from sugar with as much botanical detail and make these edible pieces of art fit to present on a cake.
If you are an amateur just starting out in this field of cake decoration, or perhaps have tried your hand at decorating in sugar before, then here at the sugar studio you are taught the step by step techniques with hints, tips and tricks of the trade that take you from visualizing concept to its completion.
Decorations can be elaborate or simple and done in a jiffy, making you look like an absolute pro, wow-ing friends & family and in the process wow-ing yourself too, when you learn how easily these skills could be accomplished to make you a rolling success… with every roll you make becomes a decoration for cake!
If you remember, last month we had discussed the most important functional and behavioral traits of a culinary professional to have a successful career ahead. Today, we are here with some basic cooking skills every budding chef should know before entering the industry. These skill sets may seem simple; however, the perfection of these culinary techniques is what makes or breaks a dish.
No chef is born with a Michelin star; from Michel Roux to Gordon Ramsay, they all began with the basics. So here are our ‘must-know’ cooking skills to take you from nervous novice to a confident chef, to begin with.
Hone your knife skills
When it comes to mastering the cutting skills there are many technical aspects to it that only a trained chef would know. From getting the right grip on the knife to cutting in precisions, there are various techniques involved when you handle a knife in a professional kitchen. This is the first and foremost skill set you learn in the culinary school which will be one of the most tested skills during the trade test of a job interview in the beginning of your career. Practice is the key to master this skill; so now you know what you should be doing during your free time in the culinary school.
Learn to make the perfect Stock
A good stock is the heart and soul of dishes such as soups, stews and other stock based preparations which take them to the next level. While you’re at school getting trained to become a chef, stock making is something you will do on an everyday basis. Taking that into account you should be all set to prepare that perfect pot of stock.
Master the five Mother Sauces
Once you get into the kitchen, you will learn and make a variety of traditional and modern sauces for different cuisines. However, it’s the knowledge of the five French mother sauces that will prove essential to learn more. In the beginning, they may seem a little complex to learn but knowing to prepare these five sauces are extremely important for a chef, and once learned; it will nurture your confidence in the kitchen.
Be an expert with eggs
Eggs are not that scary if you look at it in a layman’s point of view. However, when you’re in a professional kitchen, eggs could be one of those intimidating little things that could go terribly wrong if you don’t know the different techniques behind the not so similar methods of cooking an egg. When you become a chef, you don’t just cook an egg; you’re boiling, poaching, and frying it. So, make sure you learn the basics very well while you’re at the school itself.
Handling meat, poultry, and fish
One should be well aware of the safety steps taken when they are dealing with meat, poultry or fish in a professional kitchen. Every step in handling, cooking and storing this kind of perishable food items safely is essential to avoid any kind of food contamination. As a budding chef, you should know to check its freshness, doneness while cooking, how to clean it and also packing it properly for storing.
Managing fruits and vegetables are also as important as handling meat. With the amount of food being prepared in a commercial kitchen, each and every ingredient should be carefully handled before it is being used for cooking. When it comes to fruits and veggies, its freshness should be checked properly to ensure that it is clean and undamaged to avoid any kind of food poisoning.
Kneading the dough
Whether you’re a hot kitchen chef or a pastry chef, kneading the dough is an inevitable task in the kitchen. Be it flat bread or loaf bread the perfection of the final product is in the kneading of its dough. It wouldn’t look like a task as such but remember if the consistency of the dough goes wrong it will definitely ruin the bread.
Stay safe in the kitchen
Last but not the least; take care of yourself when you’re hustling through the busy kitchen atmosphere. A commercial kitchen is a high paced place so if you’re not careful enough you could hurt yourself easily. This is mainly why you should have a better grip on the above-said skill sets to keep up with the pace to stay safe.
To have a good start in the culinary industry and to create a successful career ahead, getting the fundamentals right is the way to go about it. To learn more visit ICCA Dubai and take your first steps towards building a career in the culinary world.
The world’s favourite indulgence, 9 out of 10 people love chocolate.. and the 10th who does not like it, well, usually hates to admit it. Everyone loves biting into a good piece of chocolate. No arguing that. To dig into a glossy bar or a piece of chocolaty cake, and let it melt and swirl slowly in the mouth, the unmistakable taste feels absolutely divine. No wonder the Greeks considered it Ambrosial – or food fit for the Gods. In fact, the genus name for chocolate is Theobroma which literally translates in Greek to “Food of the Gods”
Be it dark, bitter-sweet, milky or white, containing a mix of over 200 different flavours in it, the aroma of chocolate is a complex compound that will trigger the senses of any person in some way or the other. Chocolate making is a delicious art-form, where its taste is influenced not by its base ingredient which is cocoa, but rather the style of its making which varies from chocolatier to chocolatier. From fruity to spicy, sweet or earthy, milky or liquored – there is plenty to contemplate for everyone.
Chocolate primarily satisfies our innate desire for sweets and fats. Besides, it also contains phenylethylamine (PEA), which encourages the brain to release Endorphin, the feel -good hormone. Called the happiness hormone, it creates the same feeling as falling in love. Little wonder then, that chocolate is synonymous with love, romance and happiness.
Making you happy is just one of its many benefits. It is good for your heart and circulation, reduces strokes, it is mineral rich, good for your skin, reduces your cholesterol, good for your brain and believe it or not it also helps reduce weight & is good for diabetes too. Too much of it can be detrimental, but small quantities of the quality stuff make all the good difference.
Be it chocolate cakes, candies, choco-chip cookies, chocolate eclairs, fudges, soufflés, even chocolate sandwiches and fried chocolate pies.. the happiness list is exhaustive. I kind of envy the people who are in the chocolate business. As a chocolate lover, I know that this is what uplifts my soul. If you are looking for a chocolate making class in Dubai then ICCA has a course that will surely get those hormones raging.
With a distinct aroma that produces titillating thrills and the vivacity with which it gets us going, it is hard for many of us to be fully functional human beings without our morning doze of caffeine. A spate of people love their cup of coffee and how!
For the gloomy days, we need our cup of happiness. Also for the glorious ones, we prefer to bask in more glory with our potent and compelling cup of coffee. Another highpoint is how conversations and bonds grow over and with this beverage. Exactly why some big names have stepped into the coffee game!
If you were to take a look at the number of cafés, their success or the staggering competition, there’s no doubt about it- coffee is good business. It is a matter of getting your plan right! From being a coffee geek to getting your marketing right, all of it matters if you wish to get your business capitalizing on this favourite beverage.
We might believe that preparing coffee is no brainy task. However, getting it perfect, unleashing some creativity through your coffee that might wow people and keeping up with all the coffee variants coming up, are things that a good coffee barista cannot overlook.
Specialized knowledge of beans and advanced machinery that automates much of the precision also help in crafting the perfect cup. The different types of coffees there are, the moisture levels of the coffee beans, the roasting, extraction and grinding process that affects the body, acidity, aroma & flavour – there is a lot that affects and goes into making that particular taste that you love so much. From an espresso to a macchiato, be willing to master it all.
Taste apart, who doesn’t love some visually stimulating coffee art? Your latte or cappuccino gets more invigorating when it has an interesting design created in your cup that you can swirl or just sip into at leisure. Some designs take years to master, but all worth the effort.
So whether you want to start your own coffee space or just work as a successful barista, get to know these power beans and bait on crafting some spectacular coffee experiences to brew up the business!
Bread has always intrigued me. From the very basic five minutes fix of flatbread (called roti or chapatti) made of flour and water to the complex sourdough bread made with a 45 days old starter and everything in between. This humble food most often gets overlooked. How often does one go for a fancy dinner and rave about how good the bread was?
Making good bread is not just an art, it is an exact science. If we were in an ideal world where we could control all the parameters of bread making then it would have been a straightforward science. Whereby the outcome could be defined by the change in the variables. Fortunately, that is not the case, and there is a whole lot of room for the creativity of a baker to kick in. In the bread making process, one very important question that one needs to answer at every step of the process is “WHEN”. The question may seem innocent, but that is the difference between good bread and an average loaf. All bread recipes are at best only a guide. The real skill is in understanding the nature of the ingredients one is using and the environment one is working in.
Let us look at some of the factors that come into play. The most important factor arguably is the flour. Good quality flour definitely helps in getting good bread. However, a more important factor than good quality flour is the know-how to manipulate the bread making process to achieve the right results and to use the right flour for the right job. For example, if I am working with weak flour then I can improve the quality of the bread by either using a starter dough or by long slow fermentation (cold fermentation).
Yeast or bacteria used for the production of fermented bread is also an important factor in dictating the quality of bread. Ever wondered how the combination of ordinary taste ingredients namely flour, yeast, salt and water produce an explosion of flavours in the finished bread. The answer is fermentation which is induced by yeasts and/or bacteria. These microorganisms feed and multiply on the dough and in the process produce an array of enzymes and acids which are responsible for the creation of flavours. These enzymes and acids not only give flavour but also change the molecular structure of the dough bringing about visible differences in the physical & chemical properties of the bread such as texture, bite, crumb and crust structures, water retention and shelf life. A well-fermented bread is a relation between time and temperature of the fermentation with regards to the quality of raw materials and desired result.
Then again, besides ingredients, there are several different styles of bread-making. The question is not which one is the best, rather which one suits the desired outcome. A few styles of fermented bread are:
1) Straight dough – dump all the ingredients in the recipe, except the fat, and knead. Add the fat next and knead again. The dough is then proofed for the first time, knocked, shaped, proofed the second time and baked. Proofing is the final rise of shaped bread brought about by fermentation of the dough before baking. This style of bread making is popular with commercial bakers as the process is quick with higher turnover and low refrigerated storage cost. This style generally requires a use of additives to the dough to improve the overall quality and shelf life of the bread.
2) Cold fermentation- if the dough is refrigerated for a minimum of 8 hours to 5 days prior to shaping, proofing and baking, it is then called cold fermentation. This may or may not have first proofing prior to refrigeration. As a thumb rule, a bread produced using this method is remarkably better than the straight dough methods. The bread has a higher shelf life, better flavour, higher water retention, stable crumb structure and is easier to digest. Also, the dough can take higher handling, without collapsing in the shaping process. This process is especially suitable for pieces of bread with higher fat content.
3) The next style is the starter dough bread. The process is same as straight dough except that the recipe includes a part of starter dough which has been pre-fermented for variable periods of time from 45 min to up to several days. Some of the starters include biga, polish or sponge.
4) There is yet another style of bread making which is the mother of all breads, “The Sour Dough Bread”. It needs to be treated with a lot of respect and perhaps would be best left for another time.
Next time that you have bread, give a thought to this humble food. For it is something that you pray and work for all of life.
If you ask me what is that one thing that I would never get tired of eating, I would without a doubt, say it’s the yellow butter cake my mum used to bake in the portable electric oven in her kitchen!
I have always been a dessert person and was pretty much into all kinds of sweets, not to mention the high-end pastries with intricate designs and fancy names. However, when it came to my mum’s yellow butter cake nothing else mattered to me. It was soft and simple with a divine taste and aroma that is exclusive to homemade cakes. Even on my birthdays, I preferred her cake to the store-bought fancy ones. Well, that is the thing about homemade goodies. It’s simple and humble and comes with an assurance of quality.
This is not just a childhood story anymore. Today the demand for homemade foods has increased to a remarkable level. In fact, nowadays, the most sought-after food items come under the tags ‘organic’ and ‘homemade’. For one thing, we know that these labels make us feel safe about what we are eating, and also gives us a nostalgic feeling.
When a product says it’s homemade, we believe that it will be free of additives, artificial flavours, and colours, which make them our favourites. This explains very well the sudden boom in home-baking, home-catering and any home-based food business.
The home enterprise idea started with homemade birthday cakes. The thought of someone dedicating their time and energy to the making of a customized cake with ingredients that are hand-picked unlike the commercial bulk production is what made the home-baked birthday cake so special. When the cake trend picked up, people slowly started expanding their menus to different desserts, finger foods, regional specialities, pickles and eventually to a fully-fledged homemade meal. Unlike other trends that have come and gone in time, the demand for homemade food is here to stay.
The best part about home-based food business is that you may not even need a separate space to make your business work. Also, you can do it at your pace and comfort. What required is some interest and the right amount of technical knowledge in food production to run the show successfully. Your knowledge in this field could take you and your business to a whole new level. If you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur then polishing your knowledge and skills in a culinary school such as ICCA Dubai could be your stepping stone to a new promising career.
Nowadays, celebration just isn’t a celebration without a cake. There is barely an occasion now that doesn’t have a cake cutting ceremony as part of it. In the earlier days, cake cutting was only part of birthday celebrations, but now you have a cake customised to the theme, for any occasion or event you can name. Whether it’s an occasion to remember or a success party, cakes seem to have carved a permanent niche for themselves.
Cakes being an inevitable part of celebrations, people are taking a keen interest in learning to bake and decorate cakes. It’s not just the prominence of cakes in a celebration, but the satisfaction of creating something that is artistically beautiful is what drives more people into it.
Being creative is not everyone’s cup of tea. Creativity demands a great deal of talent to produce something beautiful. As far as baking and decorating cakes are concerned, one’s personal interest is what matters more than any inborn talent.
A cake could be made by anyone who has a little patience and the enthusiasm to do it. You can learn how to bake and decorate a cake simply by following the right procedure for it. It doesn’t stress on aptitude, but having a natural flair for culinary arts is always a cherry on the cake. It would help you make better cakes using the best of your imaginations. It sure does play a vital role when you are experimenting with new combinations of ingredients while baking or decorating. However, this is not mandatory; you can still bake & decorate a cake by following a tried and tested recipe by mastering the techniques.
The recent trends in cakes, the surge in popularity of celebrity chefs and their subsequent television shows have encouraged many homemakers to turn into successful entrepreneurs, leading to a sudden boom in culinary classes and workshops. Women seem to have taken a liking for baking and selling customised cakes and desserts from the comfort of their home.
These days, people prefer homemade cakes to regular store bought ones; reason being the difference in the quality. Home bakers usually concentrate only on one order at a time taking care of the special needs and demands of the customer by paying attention to every little detail while creating it. They also use good quality ingredients as the cake they make is their signature product. This makes that one particular customer the baker’s priority for a certain time, which is why people don’t mind paying a fancy price for a custom-made cake.
Not only does this give the home baker the comfort of both time and place of their choice, but also a source of income as well. There are many bakers who have started at home and have taken their businesses to greater heights.
Today, we are blessed with many ways of learning new techniques. Prestigious Culinary Schools such as ICCA Dubai offers a variety of patisserie programs. All you need to do is select the program that suits your needs and learn to make some delicious cakes & desserts on both a professional and entrepreneurial level.
After all, a piece of the customary cake always holds a good memory to be cherished from the days begone.
Have you ever thought why we love chocolate the way we do? Intrigued much? Let’s begin then.
Chocolate is the only wonder food that doesn’t have any age constraints on it. You can be just as mad about it when you are sixty as you were when you were six. It is something that is loved both by kids and adults equally and something that always puts a smile on your face. It plays with your mood and calms your senses, leaving you happy & relaxed. No wonder why chocolates are also deeply associated with love. A food that is delicious, healthy and romantic as well- could it get any better?
Primarily, we love chocolate for its taste. It is rich and creamy with a melt in the mouth texture giving us a wonderful memory to hold on to until we taste it the next time. Chocolate satisfies our natural preference for sweets and the fact is that you really can’t argue with the joy of eating a good piece of chocolate. That is what this ambrosial food does to you.
In ancient times, Aztecs and Mayans used to consider chocolate a food worthy of the gods. They used to consume it surprisingly in its bitter form as a frothy drink mixed with chillies.
Coming to the feel-good factor of chocolate, if we have to explain it scientifically, we can say that it is the result of the brain releasing certain chemicals in response to the taste, smell, and feel of the chocolate.
Making it a little bit more specific, our brain release hormones such as endorphins and serotonin which are the feel-good hormones, and the same happens when we eat or smell chocolate. Well, now we know why chocolate is one of the most popular choices as gifts.
Today, for any occasion people prefer to gift chocolates with added flavours/ingredients or as it is, in various shapes and sizes. The addition of nuts, spices, caramel, coconut, etc. to chocolate not only elevates its flavours but also makes it an expensive deal. Then there comes the sophisticated variety of artisan chocolates which boasts of quality and class.
Artisan chocolates are handmade chocolate made with utmost care and delicacy. It is mostly made by all natural ingredients where the use of additives or artificial flavours is avoided to a great extent. Each one is created with designs and beautiful little artworks on it which are again done by hand.
The most important part of making artisan chocolate is that it gives you enough space to play with nothing but chocolate and create a little bundle of joys out of them that imprints your creativity and art on every single piece of them.
You can learn the delectable art of chocolate making at the Artisan Chocolate Making program at ICCA. And we bet you will find it impossible to stop at one. Truly ambrosial!
Coming home to the whiff of a freshly baked loaf of bread is something that can easily put a smile on anybody’s face. Even though kneading the dough and all that waiting period feels a little tiresome job to get that soft, fresh and warm loaf of bread made at home, some actually enjoy doing all of it because it helps them relax and work out frustrations. Now that’s one way to look at it if you really want to have some homemade goodness, isn’t it? In any case, one can’t deny that the whole “mixing, kneading, first rising” ceremony of bread making, is such a delicious process to understand and learn.
No matter how you feel about the bread making procedures when the whiff of freshly baked bread hits you, you will realise that there is no excuse to not make your own loaf of Artisan Bread in the most possible traditional way itself. It’s fun & healthy, and you’ll be happy to see the end results which would be a beautiful light-textured loaf of your choice, made at home itself. I bet you won’t find anything in the stores like a loaf made all by your own effort. Moreover, it keeps well too, even without the preservatives that most store-bought bread has.
However, to get that perfect loaf you should know to play well with the ingredients and methods proportionally. You don’t have to know much of science to bake a loaf but a little knowledge will help you understand the chemistry involved in bread making which turns the ingredients put together into one of the finest loaves you have ever had.
Here is a brief on how the ingredients come together to make a perfect loaf of bread:
Yeast, one of the key components in bread making is a living organism. It produces the gas carbon dioxide which naturally expands the dough helping to give the loaf a good volume. It helps the dough ferment whilst providing flavour through the production of complex compounds.
Sugar and yeast work hand-in-hand. It is the essential food for yeast which should be used in moderation. Flour has a natural fermentable sugar content of about 1.5 %, therefore use sugar carefully if you are adding any extra fruity ingredients into the dough otherwise you will end up with an extremely sweet loaf.
Salt inhibits the gassing action of the yeast but is needed for flavour. It is a tricky balance that we have to keep in mind when experimenting with savoury flavours.
Fats, such as butter, vegetable oils, lard, or even the eggs, help develop the gluten in bread. They act as the binding agent that helps to hold the structure together. Fat is the ingredient that is used to improve the crumb texture and fluffiness of the loaf by enriching the dough.
Apart from the above said, you have to be extremely careful with the measurements, as it can make all the difference between a lovely loaf and something really disappointing. Such is with the water temperature, which should be always tepid because cold water will not activate the yeast, and hot water will kill the yeast. Once you get a hold of these factors, bread making would be no more a hassle to be done at home. If you are trying the good old fashioned Artisan Bread making at home, it is advised to get trained by a professional to achieve the best results.